Lagos, like every other global mega-city, has a food scene that is evolving at a rapid rate. Gone are the days when the only options out there were traditional Nigerian cuisine and that other go-to favourite, Chinese. Amidst the fast-food chains and quick fix hits you can pick up from a road side vendor, people are seeking cleaner, healthier options, and I for one was missing my morning treat in London of a green juice picked up on my way to work.
Call it a Back To School thing where the inner nerd inevitably pops out, or just us always seeking out as many of the culinary goings on as we can, but Gastrotastic is pleased to present a series on local food heroes who are setting the culinary agenda in Nigeria. Today, we open with The Nuli Juice Company in a special two-part article.
Nuli is an organic juice company that was founded by Ada Osakwe, who is passionate about promoting healthy lifestyle products without compromising a jot on flavour. Nuli is using the ultra on-trend and best in terms of nutrients extraction, cold pressed method for creating the juices and here’s the extra exciting bit, all of the ingredients are grown and sourced locally in Nigeria. So far, so virtuous, but do the juices taste any good? Luckily dear readers, I had the task of sampling some of the range and my thoughts on which flavours were particularly off the scale delish; although to be fair they were all fab (this barely felt like work), in our next post. But first more from our Food Hero and founder of the Nuli Juice Company, Ada Osakwe:
What made you decide to found Nuli?
For the last three years, I worked with the Nigerian government as the Senior Investment Adviser to Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, Nigeria’s Former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. In this role, I was intensely exposed to the Nigerian food and agriculture sectors and got to appreciate how Nigeria is the largest producer in Africa of most horticulture crops and a diverse range of fruits and vegetables grow abundantly across the country. For example, did you know that we’re the largest producer of pineapples in Africa? And the 2nd largest producer of Citrus fruits in the world?!
However, I was alarmed that due to the lack of storage, processing facilities, and suitable immediate markets for farmers, up to 60% of these fruits rot away and are wasted.
So I got thinking about how these locally grown fruits and vegetables could be used to create value-added products that can create the demand for farmers’ hard-earned produce, while addressing unmet needs from Nigeria’s rising population of consumers.
I started my own juice company with a laser focus on directly sourcing these fruits and vegetables from Nigerian farmers across the country and adding-value to them through Nuli cold-pressed Juices. At The Nuli Juice Company, we aim to inspire a healthier and happier generation in Africa by making fruits and vegetables the cornerstone of every consumer’s diet with a product that is a convenient way for customers to live a healthier lifestyle. Through our company, we are also helping create a steady and sustainable means of livelihood for hundreds of farming families across Nigeria.
What have been the challenges of production in Nigeria?
These have mainly been operational. I’m totally dedicated to sourcing 100% of all our raw materials locally. Our fruits and vegetables are grown here, our bottles are produced by a local manufacturer, our box packaging is made by a local printer, as are our bottle labels, and even our stylish freezer bags are made by a great company out in Surulere, Lagos. Managing this has been challenging especially since I tend to push the local artisans to produce at the highest level. I’m very protective of the Nuli brand and only want the best and more, so when I get sub-standard quality, I freak out. We have had times when our stock levels have been very low on certain items and just when I am happy that deliveries will be made, they come and the printing is wrong, rendering them useless. So my blood pressure rises and I get stressed out!!
Where are you currently stocked?
We started with a direct-to-customer delivery model, with a plan to get closer to the customer through partnerships with local businesses who serve as distributors. In Lagos, Nuli cold-pressed juices can be picked up at Nuts About Cakes, the stylish bakery and café on Rumens Road, Ikoyi, at Aima’s Organic Box in 1004, Victoria Island, and at Neo Café on Akin Adesola, Victoria Island and Mulliner Towers, Ikoyi. In Abuja, we continue to deliver directly to customers through phone and online orders. Our Abuja concept store, The Nuli Juice Bar, will be opening at Food City in Wuse 2 within the next few weeks, where customers will be treated to the Nuli lifestyle experience. The Lagos edition will be coming before the end of the year.
On your website you offer juice cleanses. Have Nigerians embraced the juice fast concept?
Yes we do offer the Nuli juice cleanse as part of our product range, and these tend to be quite popular because we pay special attention to the combination of juices in our cleanse packages to ensure optimal benefits to our clients.
But at The Nuli Juice Company, we are more focused on helping Nigerian’s realize the importance of making fruits and vegetables a cornerstone of their diet. So our Nuli Club juice box subscriptions are increasingly becoming more popular as clients prefer the idea of having a box of 6 or 12 of their favourite Nuli juices delivered to them every 2 to 3 days. This way, they can have cold-pressed juices with their meals, replacing the unnatural, highly processed, sugar-filled soda drinks like Fanta and Coke, and the packed juices like Fumman that are made from concentrate.
Do you have a favourite juice in your range?
Now that’s a big NO. Actually, I do have favourites at different times: Right now I’m drinking ‘The Simple Life’, and yesterday I was in love with ‘Spice Root’. I personally came up with each recipe we have so far, and they were made with a lot of thought to taste and optimal nutrition. Most importantly, they were all crafted with love!
What our clients love about us is that we are able to give them a much wider range of cold-pressed juice combinations than any other brand in the market. We started with The Nuli Signature Collection, a delicious range of 6 premium cold-pressed juice recipes. But over the last 2 months, we have launched 3 new cold-pressed juice recipes, one of which is my current favourite – ‘Dr. Nuli’.
Would you consider yourself a food hero?
Not at all! I would consider myself someone who has been fortunate to have a rich and diverse global career. I have had the chance to work in the private sector and at the top levels of public sector. I have travelled to over 50 countries in the world through my work. I have worked in investment banking, capital markets, private equity and infrastructure finance, mainly focused in Africa.
I’m so excited that I’ve finally found my passion in food, and all I pray and hope for is that my life is a positive example and inspiration for the many young people who work with me and who come across me.
Completely random, but we have to ask, what’s your favourite meal?
Erm, okay. It’s so not healthy but I am a sucker for a good pasta dish. Specifically, a prawn pasta in garlic and white wine sauce. Yum!! But oh my, the calories in that one!!!! Sigh, living healthy is certainly not easy! But I keep trying! J
So whilst Ada, has very humbly stated she is not a food hero, we at Gastrotastic.com beg to differ. The Nuli Juice Company truly is transforming the food scene in Nigeria. As well as providing consumers with some of the most delicious juices I have tasted, championing healthy lifestyle choices, and creating a premium market for local farmer’s produce, she is doing it all with love.
Check out tomorrow’s post for the Gastrotastic review of the range, and if you cannot wait, go straight to www.nulijuice.com to order your own box of deliciousness!